Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 – Kinetic Clarity

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DISCLAIMER: Audio-Technica Indonesia loaned me the ADX5000 in exchange for my honest opinion. I will send the headphone back following the review. I am not personally affiliated with the companies in any way, nor do I receive any monetary rewards for a positive evaluation. I’d like to thank Audio-Technica Indonesia for their kindness and support. The review is as follows.

Audio-Technica is one of Asia’s most historic audio brands. The Japanese manufacturer isn’t known only for their work in the enthusiast space, but they’re renowned for their contributions in the professional domain as well. From studio-grade microphones to reference amplifiers, their offerings have received ubiquity and acclaim among engineers industry-wide. Those achievements there have then informed their work in headphones and in-ear monitors. The ATH-M50x is perhaps one of the best-selling transducers in the world. But, today, we have something from the other end of the spectrum. The Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 is the company’s newest open-backed flagship: Airy, clean and uncompromisingly pristine.

Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000

  • Driver type: Open-air dynamic
  • Impedance: 420Ω
  • Sensitivity: N/A
  • Key feature(s) (if any): Core Mount Technology
  • Available form factor(s): Full-sized, open-backed headphones
  • Price: $1999.00
  • Website: www.audio-technica.com
  • Buy on Amazon.com

Packaging and Accessories

The ADX5000 is a flagship at first sight, and it’s all down to its supremely premium packaging. The headphones come in a suitcase covered throughout in a smooth, stitched, leather-like material. At the top, you have a firm, turnable handle and the two latches keeping the case closed. Then, on the underside, you get four rock-solid feet for the case to stand on. On all fronts, this is an incredibly solid-feeling and solid-looking case. I appreciate Audio-Technica’s immense effort, and the lengths they’ve gone to to give their flagship headphone (with its flagship price tag) the treatment it truly, truly deserves.

Inside are the headphones themselves cushioned all around with an extremely plush foam. The foam too is covered in a silky, velvety, fabric material, which gives it a luxurious look and a premium feel. When it comes to accessories, however, the ADX5000 is rather sparse. The headphone only comes with one, single-ended, 1/4″ cable, which was disappointing to see. The Sennheiser HD800S, for example, comes with both an unbalanced 1/4″ cable and a balanced XLR cable. There’s also the likes of MrSpeakers (now Dan Clark Audio) who offer you the option between the two terminations at check out.

So, while the packaging in-and-of-itself is excellent, I would’ve loved to see a bit more thought put towards the bells-and-whistles. A balanced cable is an absolute must, and perhaps a cleaning cloth or a soft pouch as well. I think tiny touches like these would bring immense value and attention-to-detail; to a top-of-the-line product at this price point, especially.

With that said, though, the cable itself is exceptionally made. The conductors are smooth and pliable with zero memory whatsoever. And, like the headphones, they’re incredibly compact and light as well. They’re quite a bit thinner and more flexible than the Sennheiser HD800’s stock cables, for example. But, they aren’t insubstantial too, striking a fine balance between quality and practicality. The conductors are lined with a silky-feeling fabric with zero perceivable microphonics. Again, I find the cable wonderful to the eyes and to the touch all around. I just wish it had a balanced termination as well.

Build and Comfort

In terms of form factor, the ADX5000 certainly goes against most flagship headphones I’ve experienced. The enclosure is surprisingly compact and stunningly light. It’s far-and-away one of the lightest headphones I’ve used, let alone a higher-end one. Ergonomics is excellent with just enough clamping force, even for my larger head. And, while the headband is a tad minimal when it comes to surface area and padding, the headphone’s stunning weight largely prevents any hotspots forming even after hours of use. The only discomfort I’ve encountered is a bit of pressure along the zygomatic bone that runs above the cheek. Other than that, though, the ADX5000 has really impressed in comfiness, form factor and weight.

I admire Audio-Technica’s material choices all throughout. The magnesium chassis is behind the headphone’s incredible lightness. It isn’t perhaps as dense or solid-feeling as the metals and woods you’d find on most flagships nowadays. But, the ADX5000 is truly sturdy-feeling nonetheless, with a gorgeous, textured, stone-like finish. The cups turn and swivel to ensure a comfortable fit with most head sizes. I would’ve loved a bit more resistance to the joints, but it’s no issue in use. The adjustment mechanism is truly lovely. While the metal arms may appear smooth, they actually have a subtle, tactile click. Apart from simply feeling satisfying, it ensures you extend both arms equally and makes a reliable fit easy as ever.

The padding they’ve used on both the ear cups and the headband are lined with Alcantara. It’s a suede-like material that you’d most often find in automobiles, but it’s made its way into the headphone space most notably through Sennheiser’s flagship HD800. Personally, I find it truly pleasing to wear. It’s a breathable material, which – combined with the ear cups’ extremely open design – greatly reduces sweating and delays the onset of wearing fatigue. Again, though, the headband isn’t so much padded by it as it is lined with it. The ear pads, while plush, could’ve been thicker also. But, nevertheless, it’s still a wonderfully comfy headphone by weight alone; only a few minute touches away from truly achieving flawlessness.

The only concern I have with the ADX5000’s build is one that many other reviewers have brought up: Creaking. Whether I’m turning my head while listening, or just pulling the cups apart, these headphones output a very noticeable creak that can break immersion like that. Now, Audio-Technica did say in those reviews that they were pre-production models, and that the retail units would be creak-free. I’m convinced the one I have here is the former, since it dates back to 2017. The more recent reviews of this headphone do not ever mention a creak, so I can assume Audio-Technica’s claim is true. Still, if you were thinking about investing in a pair of ADX5000’s, it would be in your best interest to give them a good try first.

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About Author

Church-boy by day and audio-obsessee by night, Daniel Lesmana’s world revolves around the rhythms and melodies we lovingly call: Music. When he’s not behind a console mixing live for a congregation of thousands, engineering records in a studio environment, or making noise behind a drum set, you’ll find him on his laptop analysing audio gear with fervor and glee. Now a specialist in custom IEMs, cables and full-sized headphones, he’s looking to bring his unique sensibilities - as both an enthusiast and a professional - into the reviewer’s space; a place where no man has gone before.

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